In Missouri, Incumbent Jim Talent Behind in Polls


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - 12:00am

In Missouri, Incumbent Jim Talent Behind in Polls

The sixth competitive Senate seat takes us to Missouri and Republican Jim Talent.  Running against Talent is Claire McCaskill (D).  In a state that went to George Bush in 2000 and 2004, current polls show McCaskill with a slim, but stable lead.  Polls put her at a 47.0% - 43.7% lead.  She has led or tied in all polls since May, but never by more than six percent.  Senator Talent's largest lead was 5%, but that was back in February.


   The strategy from both camps seems to follow a familiar tone.  Claire McCaskill is trying to tie Jim Talent to George Bush, hoping that Bush's 38% approval rating will help sink her opponent.  For his part, Senator Talent is doing everything he can to distance himself from President Bush.


This Democratic plan to link any Republican candidate to George Bush seems to be working at the moment.  In moderate states, that strategy plays very well and in liberal states in the Northeast, it works extremely well.  Sentiment against the war in Iraq has reached an all-time high at 61% and President Bush's approval is tied directly to the war.  In Missouri, that figure is 54%; a bit lower than the national average, but still a majority.


That is what McCaskill and the Democratic Party are counting on.  It's an extremely flimsy strategy, but maybe sometimes the simplest strategy works the best.  Voters will only remember a few things about the candidates when they step in that booth.  If the left can convince the public that a vote for the Republican candidate is a vote for George Bush, they should win back Congress.  If they fail, the GOP will maintain control.


This race is too close to call at the moment.  Missouri is a moderate Republican state, which should favor Senator Talent, but it hasn't thus far.  However, McCaskill is under 50%, so that still leaves her vulnerable to defeat.  If she can get above 50% and hold it, I would be more confident in leaning left on this seat, but right now it is a toss-up.


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